Actually, it’s not an ask


My first job in fundraising involved opening letters and banking cheques from people donating to help send aid to Bosnia in 1992. What I learnt then, from reading the letters from these generous donors, has stayed with me ever since.

What we offer to a donor is immeasurably valuable to them. Often far more valuable than the face value of the cheque they were writing.

It’s why I think it’s misleading to use the word ‘ask’. The best ‘asks’ we make are actually great ‘offers’.

Of course, actually asking for their support is arguably the most important part of the fundraising process – just ask any successful Major Donor fundraiser.

But what’s most important in this is what we can offer to the donor and what they get out of it. Again, ask that successful Major Donor fundraiser.

At our best we make unique offers that no-one else can compete with. For £10 I can make a blind man see. Is there any other way of spending £10 that will make me feel that good?

Help the Aged - £10 can make a blind man see

For €25 I could buy a webcam on the new Rainbow Warrior. Who said giving to charity can’t be cool?

Greenpeace webcam

For £15 a year I can ‘own’ my own word – that no one else owns. I can even wear a unique T-shirt with my word on it.

ICAN Adopt a Word

Or I can ‘sponsor a day’ at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Not just any day – a day that is really important to me.

Royal Marsden Sponsor a Day WALL


I’ve worked with charities, hospitals and universities this year helping them to create their fundraising asks (and yes, I’m guilty of having used that word!). No matter who you are, we need to start from the point of what can we offer to the donor?

Remember, no-one else can offer the joy of giving and the experience of changing someone’s life like we can.

One thought on “Actually, it’s not an ask

  1. Pingback: Surely we’re not evil? | RogerLawsonConsulting

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